I’m a big fan of Docs for writing. In fact, the vast majority of everything I write, both for Lulu and personally, is done in Docs. I’ve gone into a lot of detail about why I like Google Docs for creative writers already. But on it’s own, Google Docs is a simple tool. That’s where the Google Docs add-ons for writers come in.
Functionality You Need
Google supplies some features right in Docs. From the Tools menu, we have options like Voice typing, which creates a passable speech to text document. You can also Translate using Google translate for the contents of your Doc.
Under Format, you’ll have a few options for your page and paragraph setup too. I rarely worry as much about these options since I just enter text and images into Docs, then do my page layout on another program.
Getting Google Add-Ons
Just click Add-ons from the menu and select Get add-ons. That will open the Chrome web store where you can search just like any other app store.
Most add-ons will require access to your Google account to manage whatever feature they add to your Docs. Read each access request carefully. And for the best experience, you probably want to be using Google Chrome as your browser, though from my experience, Firefox and Safari both work fine too.
Best Add-Ons For Google Docs For Writers
These are the Google Doc Add-ons for writing I use regularly.
EasyBib Bibliography Creator
Mostly for academic works, EasyBib applies a variety of styles to your bibliography. You select book, journal, or website, then put your information (like an ISBN or URL) into the search bar. EasyBib searches for sources online and lists them. Select the format you’ll use and click ADD BIBLIOGRAPHY TO DOC.
Just like that, you’ve got a bibliography added and ready!
I include Flat because I’ve seen a few comments about working with musical notes. Flat does just that! You pick your staff count and add notes through the interface. Once you’re done, insert it directly into your Google Doc.
I don’t think you’d want to use this for an entire book of sheet music, but for inserting snippets in your Doc, Flat is perfect.
If you’re not familiar with mind-mapping, you should read up on it. I use it for blog posts to think about how original sections might relate to one another and for my personal writing when I create characters who will inevitably interact.
What MindMeister does is pull information from a list and turns it into a mind map for you. This is most useful when you’re still drafting your content; but that’s exactly where Google Docs shines, anyway!
I start with a list, like this one containing the tiered styles for sections in this blog:
- 7 Add-ons Every Writer Needs For Google Docs
- Functionality You Need
- Getting Google Add-Ons
- Best Add-Ons For Google Docs For Writers
- EasyBib Bibliography Creator
I select the list and click Add-ons > MindMeister > Insert as mind map. The add-on does the work of sorting the list into a mind map.
Some writers might pride themselves on a naturally deep vault of literary terms. Not me. I prefer to use my tools to find more accurate and creative ways to get my points across.
Enter OneLook; the thesaurus in Google Docs! That might not seem revolutionary, but being able to see the text you’re working with and the thesaurus entries in the same screen is amazing! Now you can find synonyms while looking at the text you’re working with.
I’ve mentioned Page Sizer before. There’s not a lot that needs to be said about it here. Page Sizer is very simple; it gives you the ability to set custom page size and margins.
That said, if you plan to export a file from Google Docs, Page Sizer is an absolute must have. Google Docs doesn’t offer the size customization most book designers require, and Page Sizer covers that for you.
Another popular add-on I’ve written about in the past. For automated editing, I think Grammarly and ProWritingAid are your top choices. But for Google Docs, you really want ProWritingAid. Their add-on works smoothly, without slowing down your writing or typing, and it includes a wealth of information.
Don’t overlook their Writing Style options too (under the Improve Document section). You can get modified results based on the style you’re writing. I love this feature, letting me customize my editor with just a couple of clicks.
ProWritingAid is one of the best add-ons for Google Docs for writers.
More for layout than writing, Show enables formatting marks in your document. It’s not a must have add-on, but if you like seeing formatting marks while you edit, Show is your best option.
Personally, I think seeing format marks is invaluable. Particularly if you plan to do you page layout in Google Docs, you must know if that space between paragraphs is a hard return or soft return.
Table of Contents
Google Docs offers a perfectly useful way to see heading styles under View > Show document outline. For most of us, this is more than enough.
The Table of Contents add-on is useful for a one major feature: the ability to add numbering/subsections to your styles. This applies mostly for academic and educational texts, but it is a very useful feature when editing too. Instead of asking your editor or proofreader to look at ‘Chapter Twelve: The Chapter About Stuff’ in the third part of your book, you can ask them to review section 3.12. Nothing major here, but a nice feature to have.
I also find the Table of Contents add-ons loads a little more quickly than the document outline and is easy to use as a linked list of Heading styles.
Google Doc Add-ons Keep Coming
In my experience, Google Docs is the best way to write. I know there are lots of other ways you can write; there are even other Google apps for writers. What Docs does so well is bring simplicity to the actual writing, the option to work without an internet connection, and expandable features with their wealth of add-ons.
Writers need tools that customize to their needs and style easily without slowing or hindering the process. With Google Docs clean layout and add-ons, you get an exceptional writing experience for free.
Paul is the Senior Copywriter at Lulu, writing weekly blog posts and helping guide content for the company’s marketing. When he’s not deeply entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person, but considers himself cat tolerant.